(By Laura Lee Cole) Stepping lightly through the doors of Sonoma Conservatory of Dance in October of last year, young Elizaveta Glushkova stood quietly poised by the side of her family-host, Liz Lonie, and calmly surveyed her new dance school. At 14 years of age, Russian Elizaveta would spend the next several months immersed in the English language and American culture of Sonoma, attending a local school and continuing her dance training with SCD, and she knew little what to expect.
According to Elizaveta, her Russian ballet teachers “yelled at students to get their attention,” and perhaps she was concerned her new instructor, Patty O’Reilly, owner and director of SCD, would take the same approach — but in English. However, her greatest fear, declared Elizaveta, was being asked to do things she couldn’t do, like the splits: “Even though I wasn’t asked to do that, I couldn’t do everything perfectly that first day, but I felt at ease with Miss Patty and reassured that I could learn what I needed.”
Although Elizaveta arrived too late in the school year to be cast in SCD’s annual winter production of The Snow Maiden, she knew she wanted to perform in America. “Especially after seeing The Snow Maiden — it was so nice! — I just wanted to be up on that stage at the Sebastiani Theatre and feel those feelings.” So, when SCD began accepting commitments for April’s performances of “Appalachian Cinderella,” Elizaveta was the first to sign up.
Cast as an Owl in a duet dance, Elizaveta is thrilled to be part of SCD’s spring production of classic Cinderella with a comic twist, set to rollicking music from the 1920s. With nearly ten weeks of rehearsals behind her and only three weeks more before she steps on her first American stage, Elizaveta claims her feet sometimes hurt from working so hard, but, “It’s fun and really worth it. What I like best is being part of [the show] and knowing our hard work will be rewarded in the performance.”
Today, Elizaveta is far from the quiet and guarded young lady who in October stood at the center of attention on the dance floor of SCD with all young American eyes on her, wondering what a teenaged girl from Russia would be like. Dancing four days each week in classes and spending her weekends in rehearsals for “Appalachian Cinderella,” Elizaveta never complains. She is happy to split her time in America between her host family, school, and Sonoma Conservatory of Dance, where she discovered a warm and welcoming community: “I am happy to be here! I always feel welcome and accepted as part of the group; I feel like the other ballet students are all my friends! Plus, the teachers are friendly and fun.”
“Добро пожаловать в Америку, Елизавета!” (Welcome to America, Elizaveta!)
Elizaveta will perform in Appalachian Cinderella onstage at the Sebastiani Theatre on Saturday, April 12 and Sunday, April 13, at 1 p.m. Tickets are $22 for Adults, $17 for seniors and students w/ID, and $12 for children up to 12 years. BrownPaperTickets.com.